The Jacksonville Jaguars are firmly in the offseason, having already fired defensive coordinator Bob Babich and started a search for ways to improve the roster.
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While the offense made enormous strides in quarterbackBlake Bortles
‘ second season, the defense regressed and had it’s worst season as far as production in head coach Gus Bradley’s tenure. Heading into his 4th season, Bradley needs to make big changes and show drastic improvement on that side of the ball to win more games and subsequently keep his job.
The first way to improve that side of the ball (after finding a new defensive coordinator) is free agency. As is the custom, plenty of big names currently on the market will be franchise tagged or re-signed before free agency actually begins, but there will be a handful of difference makers available on the market.
There are numerous positions the Jaguars need to upgrade so we’ll periodically look at each one in the coming weeks.
First, let’s start with the cornerback position.
The Jaguars signed Davon House to a relatively big deal last offseason to be the starting cornerback on the outside and he was serviceable for the most part. Outside of some tough games against elite wide receivers (see DeAndre Hopkins and Julio Jones), House was consistent and played well. After House, the defensive back group is a disaster.
Dwayne Gratz was beaten like a drum by no-name receivers, Demetrius McCray barely saw the field after some decent play in 2014, Aaron Colvin was inconsistent despite some flashes, and Nick Marshall played like a former quarterback learning to play corner.
Gus Bradley generally likes to get long, tall corners for his scheme but that needs to change. The Jaguars just need good players.
One player who will be available is St. Louis Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
Erik Lambert over at NFL Mocks thinks he’s a good fit with the Jaguars:
"Janoris Jenkins (CB)Though the front four get most of the credit for the success of the St. Louis Rams defense, none of it can be done without dependable cornerbacks in coverage. Though he didn’t have as good a year as teammate Trumaine Johnson, Janoris Jenkins has been their best cover man since he was a rookie in 2012. He had three interceptions this season and 10 passes defended. If not for a bad final six games, he would’ve gone to the Pro Bowl.Signs With: Jacksonville JaguarsTheir investments at corner during the last NFL free agency didn’t work out, but that should not make the Jacksonville Jaguars gun-shy. Help is still needed in their coverage if they hopes to get over the hump. They allowed 268 yards per game in 2015, ranking 29th in the league. Improving that should be a top priority. Somebody like Jenkins would be a big step in that direction."
As Lambert says, Jenkins didn’t have as a good a season as his teammate across from him, but he is still a solid cornerback. Jenkins is the 5th rated free agent at cornerback according to Pro Football Focus and his price tag shouldn’t be too outrageous.
A lot of people are going to clamor for a big name like Josh Norman from Carolina, but his play tapered off towards the end of the year and he’s likely going to ask for a contract that makes him the highest paid cornerback in the NFL. Norman is good, but is he really that much better than a guy like Jenkins? I don’t think so.
Of course there are other factors to consider, like the fact that Jenkins had pretty serious character concerns coming out of college (he was dismissed from the University of Florida) but the Jaguars are at the point where they need some attitude. Jenkins is a probably up there on the Jaguars free agency wishlist.